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QAILS Quarterly | Issue 1 | March 2013

QAILS Quarterly


Highlighting the work of Queensland's community legal centres

Queensland CLCs have over 30 years of service delivery experience providing free information, advice and referral, casework and representation to the community.

Queensland CLC casework

Queensland's community lawyers provide a vital service to clients and communities across the state.  Here are a few examples of recent casework successes:
Picture by xxx 2012.

Finally choice and a place to call home


Phil (not his real name) had an acquired brain injury and was living at a government facility. Phil was subject to high and often unwarranted use of restrictive practices, sometimes totalling in excess of 18 hours seclusion in a 24 hour period. Over time, the use of restrictive practices had been increased at the request of the service provider. Through persistent advocacy from both Queensland Advocacy Inc’s Human Rights Legal Service and Phil’s family, including a series of facilitated meetings and representation at the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Phil was eventually transitioned to the community with a different service provider. Phil now lives in his own home, with part time employment and is not under any restrictive practices.

Man with guide dog fights
against discrimination


In January 2010 Mr Skinner tried to book on line accommodation.  The owner of the unit refused to rent the unit to Mr Skinner when he was informed that Mr Skinner would be accompanied by a certified Guide Dog.

Mr Skinner’s attempts to have the matter dealt with under the Guide Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 (GHAD Act) were unsuccessful because that legislation did not apply to accommodation.  Due to a drafting oversight, the provisions for accommodation previously found in the repealed Guide Dogs Act 1972 had inadvertently been left out of the GHAD Act.
Mr Skinner obtained legal advice and representation from the Disability Discrimination Legal Service at Cairns Community Legal Centre in July 2010 to instead lodge and progress a formal Complaint of disability discrimination to the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ).  That matter failed to resolve, and Mr Skinner referred it to Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) in October 2010 for determination.

Cairns CLC provided advice and support to Mr Skinner to progress the matter in QCAT.  The Tribunal found in favour of Mr Skinner in November 2011 and awarded him $13,000 compensation.

The unit owner appealed the QCAT decision and Cairns CLC once again provided Mr Skinner with advice and support in that process.  The appeal was dismissed in November 2012.

Mr Skinner’s battle to fight for his rights extended over nearly three years.  It involved not only his action through ADCQ and QCAT, but included lobbying the Ministers responsible to have the GHAD Act amended.  That struggle is on-going.

High Court protects against vilification


The latest development in a long-running dispute between former Gympie Councillor and gun shop owner Ron Owen and bisexual Rhonda Bruce and lesbian Richelle Menzies, saw Caxton Legal Centre, on behalf of Ms Bruce and Ms Menzies, successfully oppose an application for special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia.

In June 2012, Queensland's Court of Appeal found that the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) section prohibiting vilification on grounds of race, religion, sexuality or gender does not infringe upon the implied constitutional freedom of political communication. Mr Owen sought leave to appeal to the High Court.
 
Caxton Legal Centre (with pro bono support from barristers Simon Hamlyn-Harris, Carla Klease and Sally Robb) has represented Ms Bruce and Ms Menzies since 2006 in what originated as a complaint against Mr Owen for, among other things, displaying a bumper sticker reading "Gay Rights? Under God's law the only rights gays have is the right to die."
 
The matter will now be referred back to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to make a decision about the substantive vilification complaint.

Talk It Up! Young Parent and Child Protection Advocacy workshops

The Youth Advocacy Centre is running a series of eight workshops with young parents called ‘Talk it Up’ Young Parents, Child Protection and Advocacy.  The aim of these workshops is to inform young parents and prospective parents of their legal rights and responsibilities within the Child Protection system.  The content will be delivered in an interactive style with a focus on the participants developing advocacy skills so they can support themselves and their peers with interactions with the child protection system.  An additional outcome of the workshops will be a multimedia resource that will be used to inform other young parents of their legal rights and responsibilities within the Child Protection system. 

YAC is partnering with Brisbane Youth Service's Centre for Young Families, Zig Zag Women’s Resource Centre, Young Parents Program and the CREATE Foundation Queensland to deliver these workshops throughout February and March 2013.

Resolving tenancy disputes

The Tenants' Union of Queensland has developed a five part video series to help people resolve tenancy disputes in Queensland. The video topics include tips to solve your tenancy dispute, the Residential Tenancies Authority dispute resolution service, Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) and tenancy disputes, applying to QCAT and going to QCAT for a tenancy hearing. This video series was funded with a grant from Legal Aid Queensland’s CLE Collaboration Fund.
Watch the videos

 

Safe way home

Prisoners' Legal Service's Safe Way Home Partnership assists people in prison and their families to create safe plans for release from custody for over five years.  During this period, over 7,000 people have been assisted and 125,000 resources distributed, while over 30 talks have been given to groups of prisoners. 

Currently funded by the Department of Justice and Attorney General, Prisoners’ Legal Service is currently unable to meet demand for its services, turning away over 5,000 requests for help every month. Pressure on the service has been mounting after years of inadequate funding.
First DLA Piper, and now Allens, have recognised this need and responded with a generous pro bono offer.   

Now, thanks to their assistance, Safe Way Home will be better able to meet demand and target assistance to those most in need including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and women.  This will help to meet the growing demand for the service including in regional Queensland. 

Almost all people in prison will one day be released to live beside us in the community.  Thanks to the  Safe Way Home Partnership, an ever increasing number of people will arrive home from prison the safe way, the way that takes into account their practical needs and potential risks. 

QAILS appoints 2013 Director

James Farrell joined the QAILS team in January for twelve months, covering Cristy Dieckmann's maternity leave. James has extensive CLC experience as a staff member, volunteer and board member at various CLCs. He is the Treasurer of the National Association of Community Legal Centres and has been on the committee of the Victorian Federation of CLCs (QAILS equivalent in Victoria) for several years.

Contact James

Suncoast legal service launches new self-help kit for personal injuries

On 31 January 2013, Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie launched a new self help kit to help people deal with small personal injuries claims, prepared by Suncoast Community Legal Service with support from the Sunshine Coast Law Association, QPILCH, Legal Aid Queensland and others.
Download the kit

You and your lawyer

The Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House (QPILCH) has released a third edition of its 'You and Your Lawyer' guide. This publication outlines the lawyer/client relationship, how to resolve disputes, and how to take action against your lawyer.
Download the guide
Find a centre near you
If you're looking for services in your local area, our Centre Locator provides a map-based search of all accredited Community Legal Centres in Queensland.

Visit the QAILS website for more information about QAILS or Queensland's community legal centres.

Upcoming events


World Social Work Day, 12pm, Tuesday 19 March 2013 at Caxton Legal Centre

QPILCH Walk for Justice, 7am, Tuesday 14 May 2013 at Supreme Court

Mediawatch

CLCs in the media
 
Free legal help line operating
Fraser Coast Chronicle, 27 February 2013


March to give seniors voice
Townsville Bulletin, 26 February 2013


Man of choice words and keen judgments
The Age, 16 February 2013


Flood of information
Maroochy Weekly, 7 February 2013


Additional Legal Aid assistance for flood-affected people
Bundaberg News-Mail, 6 February 2013


Frontline aid needs funding lifeline
The Australian, 1 February 2013


Why disability is not an 'issue'
Proctor, February 2013


New QAILS Director
Proctor, February 2013


Police must acknowledge Logan gang trouble: lawyer
ABC Online, 18 January 2013


Queensland Government criticised for its mental health record
Courier Mail, 14 January 2013


Insurance deadline looms for QLD flood victims
ABCTV News, 7 January 2013


Time runs out for Queensland flood victims to make claims to the Financial Ombudsman
Courier Mail, 7 January 2013


Could it be the cost?
Maroochy Weekly, 13 December 2012


Cacophony buried debate about crime circuit-breaker
Courier Mail, 7 December 2012

Community legal education


CLCs talk to our communities about common legal issues, and the assistance that's available for them.  Here are some recent CLE activities:

Power of Attorney: Suncoast Community Legal Centre presented at Beerwah Library on 13 February 2013.

CPD Event: Ashurst hosted seminars on 'Lawyers and clients in a self-help setting: Who has the power?' and 'Practical legal ethics' for Caxton Legal Centre volunteers on Wednesday 27 February 2013.
Homelessness caseworker training in legal basics: QPILCH's Homeless Persons' Legal Clinic will provide training to homelessness sector workers on Thursday 14 March 2013.

Legal education for newly-arrived Queenslanders:
The Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (RAILS) offers fortnightly General Legal Education sessions at Multicultural Development Association (MDA) settlement agency, and other workshops as requested by community agencies and groups, on areas of general law such as legal system, police, driving, work rights, community disputes, discrimination, consumer rights, violence.  RAILS also offers fortnightly sessions to newly arrived refugees at MDA and every six weeks at ACCESS settlement agency in Logan on key family law issues. Workshops are provided to TAFE and others as requested.

Policy and law reform


When assisting individual clients, CLCs see opportunities to improve laws, policies and practices to ensure real access to justice.  Here are some recent CLC policy projects and activities:

Submission to Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, Cairns Community Legal Centre, 17 December 2012.

Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012, Environmental Defender's Office of NQ,  19 December 2012.


Submission on the Queensland Mental Health Commission Bill 2012, QPILCH, January 2013.

Criminal Law Amendment Bill (No.2) 2012, Youth Advocacy Centre, February 2013.

Submission on the Queensland Mental Health Commission Bill 2012, Queensland Advocacy Inc, 4 February 2013.


Submission to the review of the QCAT Act, QAILS, 22 February 2013.

Oral testimony to the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry by several CLC lawyers (view transcripts).
Thanks to our funders and supporters:

CLCs delivering great value

An independent economic cost-benefit analysis of community legal centres found that, on average, CLCs have a cost benefit ratio of 1:18; for every dollar spent by government on funding CLCs, these services return a benefit to society that is 18 times that cost.
Read the report.

Accreditation

The National Accreditation Scheme has been developed to provide an industry based certification process for Community Legal Centres (CLCs) that will support and give recognition to good practice in the delivery of community legal services.
Queenland CLCs are leading the way in the accreditation process, with the first four certified centres in Australia being from the Sunshine State!

Read more about accreditation at the NACLC website or contact QAILS regional accreditation coordinator Jude Clarkin.
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